The last book I attempted to digest was Essentialism by Greg McKeown.
In a nutshell, Essentialism says to cut your life down to the bone, keeping only what is absolutely essential.
Some positive psychology books are filled with common sense wisdom and I find myself asking 'why am I reading this stuff when most of it is obvious?' but I have to remind myself that the point is that being constantly reminded with positive words and helpful advice keeps it conscious and keeps me acting on it.
So while I think of myself as pretty good at optimizing my time and prioritizing my values this acted as a reminder that maybe it would be good to give myself a priority tune-up.
Is spending time on Twitter essential? As I mentioned before I've definitely gotten some good stuff out of it over the years, but has that made up for the time I spend on it each day, which is often 15 minutes on the PC and I'm not sure how much on my phone?
What about blogging? This is actually the second time I'm writing this - the first time I thought I saved a draft and did not. I went years without so at some level that makes it clear it's not essential.
And what about Dungeon Life, the game I went to keep working on as a side project just to keep my hand in on the game design side? It looks like I just can't bring myself to let go of that one.
The fact that I'm writing this--and when I'm done, will undoubtedly tweet that it's here to read--shows that I'm not bringing myself to make any deep cuts. The way I'm rationalizing it is that blogging for me is really a way of thinking. By composing blog posts in my head and getting them down on paper I am wrestling with my thoughts and assimilating them. Publishing them for other people to read is actually a side effect. (But thanks for reading anyway!) So it doesn't actually matter that I lost my original draft of this article. :)
So on the whole I agree with Essentialism, think it was good to have the reminder to check my 'Essentialist Health', and in particular like McKeown's criteria for determining what is essential (most books that say focus don't really give you a good guide towards what to focus on): those things in which you can have the greatest impact.
There was one thing that really gave me pause though. (Allow me to indulge my negativity bias as I talk about the one part I disagreed with. :P) He seems to be a strong advocate for passing up questionable opportunities, and quotes a passage from Chiksentmihalyi's Creativity in which Peter Drucker turns down an interview with Chiksentmihalyi saying that he is an admirer of Chiksentmihalyi's work but has to decline because what keeps him productive is a laserlike focus on a small number of things.
I personally believe luck is something of a skill rather than magic: the sort of person who takes advantage of opportunities is 'lucky'. If I turned down nonessential opportunities there are speaking engagements I wouldn't have taken and, therefore, foreign cities I never saw. Sixty Second Shooter Prime for the Xbox One would never have happened, which was, in a way, the biggest success story of my indie career. And I wouldn't have gotten to collect an income for playing with Roblox for the past couple of years.
To put it another way, I think seizing promising opportunities is essential. For me anyway. Keeping an open mind, saying 'yes' to things, and at least tasting them before making a decision and giving a 'no' verdict brings happiness and variety.
As for Dungeon Life, I think keeping my range wide and continuing to be a generalist will be beneficial to my career as a whole and not just a time-waster. So as I was consuming Essentialism I thought about what the most essential thing to work on with Dungeon Life would be in the last couple weeks before I start at Microsoft. My conclusion? I spent the time playing with my kids.